Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) are not just the hot new thing in the construction industry. They’re becoming a critical component and metric for the industry during the design process to determine which materials make the most sense for the build—particularly in an increasingly stringent regulatory environment.
EPDs provide verified details on the environmental impact of a product throughout its entire life cycle, from raw materials to disposal. This means architects, engineers, and contractors (AEC) can make informed decisions about the materials they use in construction projects and ensure they’re making the most sustainable choices for the environment and the people who occupy the building.
Let’s face it, the construction industry has a bit of a reputation for being a major contributor to the global carbon footprint. Buildings are responsible for around 40% of energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. The good news is that EPDs can help change that by informing the industry of the environmental impact of their material choices, prior to specifying them.
EPDs are based on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodologies, which considers the entire life cycle of a product, from raw materials to disposal. This means an EPD will provide verified information about the energy used to extract and transport raw materials, the energy used in production, the emissions produced during manufacturing and even the energy used in transportation to the building site. It also includes information on the end-of-life scenarios, such as recycling, incineration or landfilling. This comprehensive approach allows the AEC industry to make informed decisions about the environmental impact based on the lifecycle of materials, rather than just considering the environmental impact of one stage of the product’s life.
EPDs are also becoming more important as building codes and regulations are becoming more stringent. Many countries and regions have introduced regulations that require new buildings to have pre-determined levels of energy efficiency. Some even have regulations requiring the use of materials with low environmental impact. EPDs can help the AEC industry comply with these regulations by providing them with the information they need to select materials that meet the required standards.
On top of that, EPDs also help in the selection of products that can contribute to certifications such as LEED, BREEAM, and WELL, that are becoming more and more popular among building owners, developers, and tenants.
These indicators communicate transparent and comparable information about the life-cycle environmental impact of products, allowing builders to make informed decisions for the products they specify. Having an EPD for a product does not imply that the declared product is environmentally superior to alternatives—it is simply a transparent declaration of the life-cycle environmental impact.
The best approach is to check for the EPD’s registration number, the accreditation body and the standard it has been developed under, and compare with industry averages and benchmarks, to ensure that the information provided is reliable. Additionally, it is always recommended to consult with the EPD’s developer if you have any doubts or questions.
If you’re looking to take a more conscious approach to building, be sure to look for a thorough EPD. In the meantime, check out the announcement for the most recent verified EPD for ZS2 TechPanels.